Sooner rather than later, you need to put word of mouth marketing (WOM) into action. Especially if you’re a small business, and especially if you haven’t got a huge budget for advertising, branding and the like.
According to WOMMA, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (now that’s a mouthful!), word of mouth marketing is defined as:
Giving people a reason to talk about your products and services, and making it easier for that conversation to take place. It is the art and science of building active, mutually beneficial consumer-to-consumer and consumer-to-marketer communications.
Now what does that actually mean in plain English?
Well, it means that you need to start encouraging your current, former and potential customers to talk about you and your business. And to say nice things. 🙂
Word of Mouth Marketing: Nice or Nasty?
There’s a tiny word lurking in the definition above that you need to notice. Beneficial. That’s the make or break of WOM marketing.
Do something worthwhile, different or simply unusual, and people will tell their friends. How many friends? Depends on what you’ve been up to, but probably three or four friends. Do something downright awful, or different in a bad way and you can be sure that at least three times that many friends will know about it within the hour.
Think about it. When’s the last time you mentioned receiving good service from a company? When’s the last time you ranted and raved about bad service?
See what I mean?
How to Get People Talking
Do something special for your customers. Something they weren’t expecting and something that they’ll have to tell others about. Try something simple like sending a dozen bagels with yummy fillings over to your favorite (and most influential) customer to say “Thank you for your business”. Why a dozen? Because they can’t possibly eat that many themselves, and as they share them they’ll share the story of their surprise arrival.
Do something extraordinary. Make a donation to your favorite charity in the name of your customer with a “We Appreciate You,” note attached. But please, if you try this one, make the charity a non-controversial one, if there is such a thing. If you don’t, this has the potential to backfire badly so make sure you know your customer’s charitable inclinations before you act.
Do something unexpected. Try something different. Let’s say you’re the manager of a restaurant. The restaurant is doing well, but could do better. You want to generate some buzz. Next time the restaurant is full, make a quick announcement to all the diners. Tell them that everyone there gets a coupon for 1 plus 1 free dining on Monday nights for the next month. They’ll a) tell their friends or colleagues what happened and b) bring those friends to dine.Those friends will tell their friends and before you know it, if you keep giving out surprise coupons, your restaurant could be packed every night of the week.
There’s a lot more to word of mouth marketing, of course. Whatever else you do (or don’t do) make sure that the word of mouth about you and your company is positive. Deal with the negatives quickly and completely and guard your hard-earned reputation. It’s your most valuable business asset.
For a great introduction to WOM marketing read WOM101 from WOMMA. Good people to know. And yes – that’s word of mouth in action. 🙂
What have you done to promote word of mouth marketing in your business? What ideas do you have? Comments please.